It's taken nine years, but Honda's earned what is inextricably its rightful place among the treasures of the Japanese Classic Car Show. Since the gathering's inaugural 2005 event, antique Honda attendance has nearly quadrupled, in part because of the celebration's 25-year cutoff that's organically resulted in heightened numbers, but also because of American Honda Motor Company's newfound participation, which, by all accounts, has been a long time coming. Joining the presence of Toyota and Mazda as an exhibiting manufacturer, Honda looked to its own private collection, delivering a handful of nostalgia to last September's annual JCCS. All told, 46 Hondas—both privately owned and those under Honda's watchful care—dispersed among the grassy grounds along the Long Beach, California, harbor, helping ensure that Honda history remains forever preserved.
From American Honda's private collection in nearby Torrance, Comptech Racing's Acura Spice GTP-Lights car driven by Parker Johnstone. Built by the capable hands of what was once Comptech, the 450hp, naturally aspirated NSX engine helped earn the team three consecutive manufacturer's and driver's championships in the IMSA Camel GTP Lights series and go on to secure the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1993. Realtime Racing's Speed World Challenge Integra Type R driven by Pierre Kleinubing flanks its left side. The 1997 Type R engine was good for 225 hp, which resulted in 16 wins and 39 top-five finishes over the course of six seasons. Realtime Racing and Honda also claimed the title of SCCA World Challenge T/2 Touring Driver's Championship Winner from 1997 to 2002.
JCCS is seemingly, albeit often inaccurately, made up of restored or original-condition relics of which whether or not they were ever commissioned for road use remains questionable. Scott Harris' '87 CRX Si won't be characterized as such and is instead subjected to routine abuse at the hands of the road course.
Christopher Hoffman will be the first to tell you of his '87 CRX Si's original condition. The paint, the engine, and the seats ... it's all very much brand new. Even the dust underneath its hood remains authentic; according to Hoffman, the Si's engine bay has never seen the likes of degreaser—just periodically wiped down and cleaned in an altogether uneventful sort of way.
By the 1960s, there was no bigger motorcycle manufacturer than Honda. But Honda also wanted to make cars, which led to the N600, a sort of spiritual predecessor to the company's legendary Civic platform. A small, 599cc, 45hp engine powered the 1,356lb compact, which was limited to 80 mph and yielded 40 mpg. The N600 was indeed Honda Motor Company's official entry into the U.S. automobile market and, at its initial cost of $1,395, sold for about a buck a pound.
The third-generation model marks the first use of the Si trim level for any U.S.-bound Civic. Ryan "Rywire" Basseri's '86 Si features the venerable B-series swap and one of only two known Honda-specific drive-by-wire individual throttle body conversions.
According to Honda, about 700,000 Civics—like this 1979 1200—were sold between 1973 and 1979. The company's CVCC technology was, in part, responsible for that. Long before the VTEC acronym was coined, CVCC sought to alter the balance between low emissions and reasonable power. Fresh off the heels of building motorcycles, Honda rejected the idea of catalytic converters and instead believed that its stratified-charge process, where fuel was injected into the cylinders before ignition, was the answer. The results were reduced combustion chamber temperatures, less likelihood of detonation, reduced heat loss, and lower pumping losses. Many manufacturers considered stratified-charge technology, but only Honda successfully implemented it.
Most recently perched high atop a specialized mezzanine inside the company's second-story Ogikubo, Tokyo, Japan, headquarters, Spoon Sports' '85 Civic Group-A race car now makes its rounds about the U.S. Once the personal race car of company founder Tatsuro Ichishima, the hatchback went on to become the first Civic to compete in the Japan Touring Car Championship. Under the hood sits a heavily modified ZC engine with center-locking Enkei wheels positioned at each corner.
Only recently has JCCS opened its gates to the '88-'91 Civic and CRX, this one a nearly new-looking model with a Japanese frontend conversion and Mugen RnR wheels made of a specialized, lightweight aluminum and magnesium alloy.
Restraint and foresight are but two qualifications to a 25-year-old engine bay that manages to look this good.
The Civic let American consumers know that Honda knew how to build an economical, reliable commuter; the first-generation Accord let them know that styling, modest power, and room needn't be given up to achieve any of that. A 72hp 1.8L engine powered the 1979 LX sedan—the only trim level to choose from at the time—and included such standard features as power steering, an oil cooler, and among the first full-size radiators.
Upon the CRX's release for the 1984 model year, a Mugen-outfitted version was developed to help test American interest in the Japanese-based Honda-tuning brand's performance components. Unfortunately, interest wasn't there. Had the program been a success, Mugen parts would've been made available in U.S. Honda dealerships as early as the mid-1980s. It wasn't until Mugen became involved with Formula One that the brand would earn its current reputation and command the sort of demand that it has.
Also courtesy of American Honda's private collection, a Honda-commissioned Civic Si pieced together by a publication many years ago. Full-bodied flames and chicken wire grilles have long gone out of style, but the B16A2 and close-ratio gearbox never will.
Special thanks to the Japanese Classic Car Show Association